Cost of Living in Australia and Living Expenses for International Students
Make the most of your money
You want to enjoy a healthy and happy study life in Australia. Knowing how much you need to for living expenses is a great starting point, but keep in mind the cost of living may be higher or lower depending on where you live.
The Australian Government says you will need approximately $20,000 Australian dollars each year if you’re single, plus an extra $6,940 per year if you’re married. If you have children, they say you’ll need $3,000 per year for each child. This doesn’t include the cost of any social, sporting or other recreation activities you might want to be part of, or any health or emergency costs not covered by your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC).
Your budget guide
- Hostels and Guesthouses: $90 to $150 per week
- Shared Rental: $85 to $215 per week
- On campus: $90 to $280 per week
- Homestay: $235 to $325 per week
Other living expenses
- Groceries and eating out: $80 to $280 per week
- Gas and electricity: $35 to $140 per week
- Phone and Internet: $20 to $55 per week
- Public transport: $15 to $55 per week
- Car (ongoing): $150 to $260 per week
- Entertainment: $80 to $150 per week
Your banking and payments options
In Australia, you pay (and are paid) in dollars and cents. You can make purchases using Australian coins and notes, fund transfer or a debit or credit card from an international or local bank, credit union or building society.
To setup an Australian bank account before or after you arrive, you will need your Electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE), Letter of Offer, passport and other forms of identification. You might also need an Australian Tax File Number (TFN), which you can apply for from the Australian Taxation Office.
Getting your phone and internet organised
You’ll probably want to get your phone and internet sorted pretty quickly after arriving in Australia.
When it comes to phones, you have three main options:
- Landline: usually only relevant if you live off campus. You might be able to get a better deal by bundling your landline with internet access, or you might choose not to have a landline at all and stick with your mobile.
- Mobile – prepaid: gives you control over how much you spend and you can stop using whenever you want. Pre-paid SIM cards are widely available from Australian shops and supermarkets, as well as from mobile phone providers.
- Mobile – contract: depending on how much you use your mobile and what for, a contract with an Australian mobile phone provider could be cheaper.
Mobile plans in Australia typically include some Internet data.
Making international calls
International calls can be a lot more expensive than calls within Australia. You might want to buy an international calling card (which gives you better rates) or use online options like Skype or FaceTime instead. You can buy international calling cards from most convenience stores.
- To call an Australian number from overseas, you need to enter the country code (61), followed by the area code and then the telephone number.
- To call another country from Australia, enter 011, followed by the relevant country code and the area code (if required) and then the telephone number.
Accessing the internet
You will have lots of options for internet access in Australia, but it pays to shop around to find the plan that offers the best price and download limits for your needs.
Most educational institutions provide free Wi-Fi which you can access with your student logon and password. If you can’t access the internet through your own laptop or computer, you can usually find one to use in the student library, at an off-campus public library or Internet café.
Some places offer free Wi-Fi, but some internet cafes for example, will charge by the hour. Don’t forget to check the security of the network you are connecting to.